At first to be honest, I was not at all prepared to become a father! Fear filled my mind, something I couldn’t express since it is not socially expected of men. It was more of fear of the unknown. I was completely unprepared to be a father. I had periods of doubt in myself and my abilities. Like every other guy that wants to support their family, I was at a loss. At that point I was still trying to decide which career path I was going to take and I was offered an amazing opportunity to become an EMT. Something I will be forever grateful for. I was able to work and become financially stable. Financial stability is important when planning a family but there is also an important psychological aspect that is often ignored. Fathers tend to care only about the well-being of the family in a financial sense and tend to ignore the psychological support that our families need from us. Sometimes psychological outweighs the importance of the financial, but I am learning to find that balance.
When I first got the call that my wife’s water broke I was 35 miles away from home on an ambulance...
I was just finishing up working a 12 hour EMT shift for the 5th day in a row. As soon as I could I rushed home and we drove to the hospital (an hour away from our home). That day I was committed to provide as much support as I humanly can. I knew I wasn’t going to get much sleep, but I didn’t even want to sleep, I was so strung out from the idea of my wife going through labor and not a damn thing that I can do to help her. I tried to do everything I could. I personally made sure that any nurse or medical practitioner that took care of her had something to eat and had enough coffee in their system to pay attention only to her. The lunchroom at the hospital already knew me by name after the first day of labor. My wife is a freaking warrior for pulling in a 40 hour labor. She basically pulled a week long shift in a matter of few days.
When my son arrived I knew that life was going to get a little bit more serious (I’m usually all laughs) and that many changes would occur. I would need to stop putting myself first and do things that I may or may not like. I am not some cartoonish father that beams at the sight of their child. Don’t get me wrong, I love my boy and I will do anything for him. I am just truly bad at showing a sensitive side. I am not much of a hands-on father or at least I don’t feel like it. My wife thinks otherwise. She always says how hands on I am. I just believe her and move on. The first year it was hard for me to find a way to be useful to my son. I know a lot of men have a hard time finding their importance that first year especially when the mom breastfeeds. I found a small role for myself. I became so fast at changing dirty diapers that I was basically the one doing it whenever we would go out. I did it out of not wanting poop or pee on me, alas my wife was not so lucky and had multiple incidents (don’t tell her I told you but let’s just say she was covered in it). I realized that I still played an important role that year. I was my wife’s support system, diaper changer, dog walker, and overall just a dad. As a father, I want to teach my son. I want to make sure he knows right from wrong and uses his brain far more often than his strength.
Being a father of a boy has its own features. I am a bit rougher with him because I want to make sure he can handle things on his own. Looking back at my childhood, in Ukraine (where I am from originally) kids were tough. Before I hit the first grade I was fighting kids on the playground. This is the last thing I want for him, but I want to make sure he is prepared physically and mentally for all the life challenges (at least as much as I can prepare him). I am also giving him a lot of hugs and kisses because I want him growing up knowing that I love him very much. When it comes down to disciplining my wife and I are on the same page. That’s super crucial. If you both have different mind sets about how to raise your child, then sit down and discuss it and find a common ground. If you don’t then the child will be confused and it will result in more harm than good.
I want my child to know that I love him very much and that I will do absolutely anything for him, but at the same time I don’t want him to be brought up spoiled. We always try to find a balance in his upbringing. Being a father has its challenges but it really changed my perception of the world. Everything and everyone went to second place and my child was placed first. I love him and I am just warming up for what the future holds for the both of us and right now we are the best of friends. I love to spend time with him at every opportunity I get, even when I have exams and I am exhausted from being in school all day. All I know is I give him my all.
About the writer: Ruslan Kazak is a graduate student trying to balance studying and an energetic three year old.